30. Jul 2020

Florentina Sgarz, BA

Vaginal dryness

Signs and symptoms of a dry vagina

Every day, the vagina produces a milky-white or clear liquid, better known as vaginal discharge. Healthy discharge is white with a creamy consistency and has no smell. A dry vagina presents itself with itchiness, a burning sensation in the vagina and pain during intercourse. The main function of vaginal discharge is to protect against pathogens, as well as to enable easy and painless penetration of the penis during intercourse. When aroused, the vagina releases a viscous secretion that makes intercourse pleasurable for both the woman and man and protects against injuries.

Who is affected by vaginal dryness, and what’s the cause?

Vaginal dryness affects young, sexually active women, as well as women going through menopause. The glands within the mucosa of the vagina produce a mucous under the influence of oestrogen. This mucous keeps the vagina moist, with the amount depending on arousal or time of the month. A lack of mucous or moisture is referred to as “vaginal dryness”.

There are many causes for a dry vagina, many of which are related to an impaired microbiome, i.e. an imbalance of bacteria in the vaginal flora.

  • Menopause: One of the most well-known causes of vaginal dryness is the menopause. It is characterised by a reduced production of the female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. A lack of oestrogen hinders the formation of the vaginal epithelium, and the vagina loses its protection. Read more here!
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can lead to vaginal dryness for a limited time. The mucous glands are impaired for a while after birth but recover after roughly six to eight weeks.
  • Hormonal contraceptives: Even young women suffer from a dry vagina, especially those who use low-dose hormonal contraceptives. These irritate the body to such an extent that it can’t produce enough oestrogen. As a result, oestrogen levels fall.
  • Insufficient arousal: If the woman isn’t aroused, the vagina isn’t lubricated. This can lead to pain and a burning sensation in the vagina during penetration.
  • Incorrect vaginal hygiene: Too little or excessive vaginal hygiene with vaginal washing lotions, sprays and douches can lead to a dry vagina. These products contain irritants such as soap, silicones, parabens and perfumes, which all upset the balance of the vaginal flora.
  • Various diseases and infections: Many diseases can also cause vaginal dryness. These include diabetes mellitus, kidney and liver damage, thyroid disorders, depression and even hypertension. Furthermore, previous fungal infections are also to blame for a lack of moisture.

Treatment of a dry vagina

There are many different causes of vaginal dryness. As such, the treatment depends on the underlying cause. Many effective remedies can acutely treat vaginal dryness, e.g. artificial lubricants, special moisturising gels for the vagina or even natural coconut oil. Some studies also prove that the intake of probiotics, that were developed specifically for the vaginal flora, has a positive long-term effect on vaginal dryness. Drinking plenty of liquids can also be beneficial for vaginal moisture.

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